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Filming an Interview with a Smartphone
Ideally you will have a smartphone capable of either full HD or ideally 4k quality movies (iPhone 6 and upwards).

Firstly, before any film shoot with your smartphone you should:
Clear other stuff
onto a PC
Switch to
Flight Mode
Make sure
it's charged
Your Phone will have plenty of charge for a 20 minute movie
Create space on your phone by slaving heavy data off to another device. 
The last thing you
need is to get calls and notifications during filming
Set Phone to
High Res Movie
Place the Phone
Quality is everything. Set you phone to record
HD or 4K
Your film will be used for TV/Movie broadcast so it
must be horizontal
Filming Setup
Important: How to interview 
The viewer is expecting you to be an authority on a particular subject so that authority must come across.  You're expected to have the answers in your head and there is one sure way to put a dent in authority...
Reading from a script or list
An interview is you looking at the interviewer and talking to them.
Please never read your answers from a script or list. If you do, your eyes will stray from the viewer and diminishes your authority... and you've lost the viewer. This is vitally important.
Zoom Call
You will have told us the date and time that you're filming. We will Zoom call you to check your set up and ask the questions.
Placing your Laptop
When we call you, place your laptop (the Zoom interviewer) left or right of your camera, as advised in this guidance. If it's not at eye level, make sure you talk to eye level.
Make sure you are in frame and looking at the "Zoom" Interviewer about 1m to the side of the camera.  Our interviewer will help you with this.
Ensure you have initiated recording on all relevant devices. 
Once it's all recording, click your fingers just once. This will give all recordings a Sync Point. 
Your interviewer will ask each question.
Where you look
You should be looking at your interviewer on the laptop zoom call (or wherever eye level is). Maintain that focal point and AT NO TIME LOOK AT THE CAMERA
When a questions is asked, wait 1-2 seconds in silence to avoid any ambient lingering of the question.
Give your answer.
The Interview
Where will your interview take place?

When shooting an interview, you generally want a space where you and the person (or people) being interviewed feel comfortable and relaxed.

Being at a comfortable temperature obviously helps.

Knowing you are not going to be interrupted for the duration of the interview helps too. If you keep getting interrupted, your interviewee will be less likely to relax and therefore less likely to give the best interview.
Noise is the curse of all live filming situations.

The problem with loud noise is it’s almost impossible to fix. If the room is dark, you can use lights. But if there’s building work going on across the street, it can be a nightmare.

With an interview, more than other filming situations, audio is absolutely key. You are there to record someone talking, after all. So make sure the noise level in your interview space is acceptable.

Birds cheeping in the woods is fine. Planes landing, not so much.
Will there be enough light?

Assuming that you don’t have a huge lighting set up, windows are great for free lighting and generally create a more attractive look than artificial lighting.
When an interview takes more than a few minutes, be aware of the sun changing position outside the window, changing the direction of the light. If you later want to cut between different parts of the interview, the sudden change of light position can look ugly.
When light from a window is too harsh, hang thin white curtains or cloth to soften the light. This also helps with a changing sun position.
Tip: shooting your subject side on to the window often creates the most pleasing look.

Having them face the window can work too – their face will be all one shade which can make it easier to avoid blowing out part of their face.

However, if they have their back to the window, either their face will be too dark or the window behind them will just be a big white block.
If you’re filming with your smartphone, most likely you won’t have a big lighting rig. Therefore you need to make the most of the available light.

Play around and test out different positions with the interviewee to find the most attractive shot.

You can also use a small light and/or a photographer’s reflector to fill the subject’s face if it is too dark on one side.

Unless you are using a plain background – maybe a curtain or a wall – the background can serve as an interesting backdrop to the interview. Perhaps the background is somehow relevant to the subject or it just looks interesting.

Again, play around with the position of the interviewee in relation to what is behind them. You can also re-arrange things in the background aesthetically. Lighting, including light from a window, will change the nature of the background too (remember, be careful of that changing sun position).













Tip: be careful of awkwardly placed objects behind the subject. A large pot plant which appears to be growing out of the top of the interviewee’s head can ruin your interview. Also, be careful that the background doesn’t distract from the subject – maybe move the subject further away from objects in the background if there’s space available.

Camera App
Using your phone’s native camera app can work well but a bespoke camera app is even better.

Using your camera app, fix the exposure settings so that the auto exposure doesn’t keep adjusting the settings in the middle of the shot.

If possible, make sure the ISO is low enough to avoid too much noise appearing in the image. Also, set the frame rate and shutter speed so that any movements will have a nice motion blur (without some motion blur movement looks harsh).
Make sure the subject is well framed. For example, if they are to the left of the frame, have them looking towards the right.

However, make sure they are not looking too far to the right.

Essentially, with the subject’s eye line set correctly, the audience feels part of the conversation. If they look too far left or right, the audience is wondering what they are looking at.
about 1m to one side of the camera.

Generally, looking down on your subject makes them look small and vulnerable, while looking up at them makes them look more powerful.

Using 2 cameras simultaneously will give you an extra angle when we're editing. This will really help keep the interview fresh and also help us to cut from different parts without jump cutting. Remember to make sure both cameras have the same exposure setting so the shots edit well.
What resolution options does your smartphone have?

Many phones now shoot up to 4K. Your camera app will give you options in the settings to change the resolution. Using a 3rd party app like FiLMiC Pro gives you extra options your native app doesn’t give you.

Basically, the higher the resolution the more detail in the image.

The upside of that is you can re-frame the image when editing. For example, you might have a head and shoulders shot. But you could zoom in in the edit and still retain HD quality, if you shoot footage above HD.

The main downside is that shooting higher resolutions takes up more memory space in your phone. This is why we suggest slaving off heavy data from your phone before you start.

If your phone runs out of memory space, then you need to stop the interview to dump the footage onto a drive. This might take a while and in that time, the light could change. It's important to have plenty of space. 

So it all depends on your phone’s resolution capabilities and how much memory it has on board.
pile of books.jpeg
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It is 100% vital to stabilise your camera(s).

Wobbling footage or a shift in framing is a real pain.

If you have a Tripod for your phone, that's a great option. Otherwise place it so it cannot move but the microphone is still free.
As I mentioned above, the purpose of an interview is to record someone talking. So good audio is absolutely essential.

Depending on your smartphone, you can get very good inbuilt mics. However, they are not designed for recording interviews and you will not get great sound (unless the phone is very close to the subject’s mouth).

Clip-on mics

The most common microphone used for smartphone interviews is the clip on (AKA lavalier) microphone. These mics plug into the headphone socket of your smartphone to allow you to connect an external mic. Note that camera apps like FiLMiC Pro allow you to switch between internal and external mics.

Clip-on mics are great for interviews as it’s not so important to hide the mic from view. Plus they fix the mic in position near the speaker’s mouth, so your audio will be more consistent.

You can use more than 1 mic...

Smartphones only have 1 mic input and you are shooting video with your smartphone. If you or your household has a 2nd phone, place the 2nd phone close to the subject and just set to record. Syncing the video and 2nd phone audio track can be done in post production.
Image by Jakob Owens
You don't need a professional clapperboard for this.

Once you've set all your devices working, you're in position and ready to go, just click your fingers once.

All the devices will register this and syncing can be done in post-production.
Dressing the Part
As with all authority interviews, how an interviewee dresses helps to cement their authority.

A surgeon would ideally wear the blues or greens or lab coat of the clinical environment. Someone commenting on business or the economy would ideally wear a suit.
Once all questions have been answered, you're free. Switch off all recording devices. Your interviewer will give you our movie upload link. 
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